After pulling out a bottle from your wine cellar and taking a sip of a glass of red or white, do you know what aromas or tastes you should be looking for to describe your wine?
If you want to school up on how to properly taste wine then here’s a quick guide to the essential processes you need to know.
Nail down the basics
Before you proceed to describe taste, it’s important that you know the basic process of tasting wine first!
This involves three steps: Look, smell and taste.
Check that you are using the appropriate glass for your choice of wine and pour. Take a good look at the wine, noting its colour and opacity.
It can be helpful to layout a white tablecloth or have white napkins handy so that you can better assess the shade.
If it’s a red wine are you noticing a purple, garnet, ruby, maroon or even brown tone? If you’re holding a white wine is it golden, amber, light green or pale yellow?
This is your first proper encounter with the wine, so take in a deep whiff and try to organise the scents you’re picking up in your mind.
To get the best impression of your wine, swirl your glass for around ten to twelve seconds to aerate the wine and release its natural aromas, and then take a big sniff.
You may want to get your nose deep into the glass, inhaling deeply. Note down your second impressions – you might notice berry scents or floral tones.
Finally, the big taste test. Take a small sip and let it briefly roll around your mouth, coating your tongue before you swallow.
What flavours and textures were you able to pick up? Was it quite sharp or sickly sweet?
You may also want to revert to the previous step of smelling the wine to help clarify any taste notes you observed.
Analysing your wine
Now that you’ve swirled, sniffed and sipped your wine it’s time to record your observations.
Wine Folly notes five basic wine characteristics that can be handy in analysing wine: sweetness, acidity, tannin, fruit and body.
– If your taste buds are tingling then it’s a sign of sweetness. You may also have a slightly oily, lingering sensation in the middle of your tongue.
– Acidity produces a tingling on the tongue of another sort, and which can make your tongue feel wet and a bit more ‘spritzy’. If you generally prefer richer, rounder wines, then you’ll want to look for wines that have less acidity.
– Tannin brings about a bitter taste and can make your tongue dry out. Tannin may contribute to the complexity, structure and balance of a wine.
– Fruity aromas or tastes are one of the first things you can pick up about a wine, with reds generally containing hints of red or dark fruits such as raspberry or blackberry, and white wine having citrus or white fruit flavours such as lemon, apple and peach.
– You’ve probably come across many wine reviews talking about the ‘body‘ of the wine – but what exactly is this?
Body is made up of a number of factors, including where it originates from, the amount of alcohol it contains and its variety. Quite simply, it’s the overall impression of the wine.
To measure the body of your wine you may want to compare its taste to others you’ve had – is it bigger or lighter?
Also does it last long in your mouth after you’ve swallowed? Can you still taste it 30 seconds after sipping or does it drop off after five seconds?
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